Hating suffering?


(cross posted to my other blog – http://salixefic.wordpress.com/  )

Hate is an incredibly powerful word.  The feelings encompassed by the word are sharp and full of pain, anger, anguish.  It’s oppositional and defiant.  And it gets thrown at us parents by our children at times when they resent the parenting we have to do, the discipline and the consequences that we mete out when necessary.  It’s a momentary thing, an expression of anger and resentment.  But as adults, with a knowledge of history and the wisdom of experience on our sides, the word “hate” can fill us with fear – hate is, after all, what fuels genocides, wars, riots – painful, awful death and destruction.

It clearly isn’t something anyone with a conscience would want to cultivate.

But what about hating the bad stuff, like suffering?  What about hating that which causes suffering?  Opposing suffering is good, of course it is – who wouldn’t want to end hunger? homelessness? the pain of illness?

Especially if the one suffering is your own child?

Is “hate” right in this context? Is this the only right time to feel “hate”, when you mean to oppose suffering and that which causes suffering?

I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of days after a post from a friend on Facebook ignited a serious debate.  The article she posted was this one:  http://rayhemachandra.com/2014/10/27/hating-your-autistic-child/

One of the author’s main ideas was that you cannot separate the autism from the person, so to say that you hate “autism” really means that you hate the person with autism.  Several people in the comments section on the article itself as well as my friend’s Facebook post wrote passionately and articulately that it is possible to hate the autism and love the person, that it is indeed right and necessary to separate the two, as the autism causes so much suffering for the person.

How can we not hate that which causes our children to suffer?

The last thing that I want to see as a parent is my son suffering.  And I think, as I look back, I’ve spent a great deal of time hating that which seemed to be causing his suffering, and doing my best to oppose it.

But as I look back, that feeling of hate, the sharp, gut-wrenching feeling, was also sapping my strength.

Hate, the red-hot angry hate that you feel sometimes, is a sort of way, I think (in my admittedly unprofessional capacity no-one-in-particular) to activate your energy initially.  My therapist once said that anger is a “call to arms”.  Don’t dwell there, but use it to get things started that you need to do.

So maybe it’s right and useful to feel “hate” for something that’s causing your child to suffer, but don’t dwell on it.  Hell, I don’t think we can help but feel some hatred for that which causes someone we love to suffer.

But it must be a momentary feeling.  Fleeting.  Dumping its lightning energy like a storm, then blowing away.

Dwelling on the hatred of something just makes for more suffering, as I can attest from experience.

But maybe that initial shot of energy can be used to do what we can to help mitigate the suffering as best we can.

Because ultimately, suffering can never be wholly eliminated.  We need our energy to help mitigate the causes as best we can, and to help each other cope with our suffering through love and compassion.


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